The Reporter
ssue 492, 29 September 2003
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How much might a cuppa cost?


Janet CadeLeeds researchers are to investigate whether women who consume large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy are more likely to have children with a lower birth weight, in a major study for the Food Standards Agency. The study is run jointly with the University of Leicester.

Project leader Dr Janet Cade (pictured left) said: “It’s been thought for many years that caffeine is a problem but the evidence isn’t conclusive. Previous studies have ignored the wide range of caffeine sources and just looked at tea and coffee, or even just coffee. They’ve also asked women to report their own intake, which isn’t always reliable, and ignored other important factors such as caffeine metabolism. Our study is designed to overcome these problems.”

Researchers will look all possible caffeine sources, such as energy drinks, chocolate and even medicines. Using the latest methods of testing caffeine intake – through saliva samples – they will also be able to assess how fast individuals metabolise caffeine. Factors like smoking, which increase the rate of caffeine metabolism, will also be taken into account.

A pilot study involving women from the Leeds area is already underway and the full survey will begin in October, recruiting 3,000 mothers-to-be from maternity units at St James’ University Hospital, the LGI, and from Leicester.

“We hope our study will provide a clearer picture of the effects of caffeine during pregnancy, to inform the guidelines given out by the FSA and help women make informed choices,” said Dr Cade.



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